#1 UNI to Take on #17 New Hampshire in NCAA FCS Playoffs
#1 University of Northern Iowa (11-0, 6-0 Gateway) Game #12 Sat., Nov. 24, 2007 6:35 p.m. (Central)
#1 University of Northern Iowa (11-0, 6-0 Gateway)
Game #12 Sat., Nov. 24, 2007 6:35 p.m. (Central)
NOTE: There will not be a live video stream for the UNI-New Hampshire game.
FIRST-EVER NO. 1 SEED FOR THE PANTHERS
13TH PLAYOFF APPEARANCE
The Panthers are 9-3 all-time in the first round of the playoffs.
UNI's First-Round History
FARLEY'S PLAYOFF SUCCESS
Farley is a perfect 3-0 in first round games with wins over Eastern Illinois, Montana State and Eastern Washington.
PAYTON AWARD SHOWDOWN
UNI will be led by senior quarterback Eric Sanders, while New Hampshire will be led by its senior quarterback Ricky Santos.
Santos is the reigning Payton Award winner after taking home the prize last season.
PERFECT REGULAR SEASON
UNI's 6-0 mark in Gateway play marked the ninth time in league history a team went undefeated against conference competition. It was the fifth time UNI has completed Gateway play with an unblemished record.
13 GATEWAY TITLES
FIVE PICKS AGAINST T-BIRDS
Junior Adam Roberts intercepted two passes, while three Panthers earned their first career picks. Sean McMoore, Ben Schmidt and Nick Nelson each tallied their first career interceptions in the win over SUU.
UNI has intercepted 21 passes this season - only six away from the school record of 27 set in 1975.
UNI LEADS THE NATION IN SCORING DEFENSE
UNI ranks first in the nation in scoring defense (13.18 points/game).UNI opponents have scored 145 points through 11 games this season.
ROBERTS NAMED GATEWAY DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF WEEK
Roberts intercepted two passes and tallied a pair of tackles in helping UNI to a 48-10 win over Southern Utah. Roberts caught a deflected Cody Stone pass in the second quarter for his first interception that allowed UNI to set up a short field at the 43-yard line.
Roberts' second pick came at the UNI five-yard line to thwart a third-quarter drive by Southern Utah. Roberts missed four games with a stress fracture in his foot, but returned to the Panther lineup last week against Indiana State.
UNI won its final game of 2006, a 38-27 win over Illinois State, and has added 11 in a row to begin the 2007 season.
The Panthers last loss came on Nov. 11, 2006, when the Salukis scored a 47-23 win in Carbondale, Ill.
12 STRAIGHT FOR UNI
The Panthers' of 1908-1910 ran off a 12-game win streak over three seasons.
The Panthers of 1991 and 1992 possess the school's longest regular season win streak at 16 in a row. UNI won its final eight regular season games in 1991, before running off eight more to begin the 1992 season.
UNI REMAINS #1 IN NATION
The Panthers gained 27 first-place votes and now have 97 (of a possible 113) first-place tallies.
The Panthers moved into the top spot in The Sports Network's FCS Top 25 poll on Oct. 15. It marked the first time the Panthers have been perched in the No. 1 spot in the nation since the Sports Network's poll on Nov. 5, 1992.
UNI was the No. 1-ranked team in the nation from Oct. 5, 1992 until Nov. 2, 1992. That was the only previous time UNI has been ranked No. 1 in the nation on the gridiron.
PANTHERS TAKE OVER TOP SPOT IN COACHES POLL
UNI tallied 17 first-place votes, while Montana moved up to No. 2 and has seven first-place votes.
UNI EARNS VOTE IN AP POLL
The Panthers received one point from the media panel, a 25th-place vote from Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle.
FARLEY IN THE GATEWAY
Farley's 35 league wins ranks him third on the Gateway all-time coaches' win list trailing only Randy Ball (51 in 16 years) and Terry Allen (43 in 10 years).
As a team the Panthers lead the league in rush defense (89.82 yards/game), scoring defense (13.18 points/game), total defense (290.27 yards/game), punt returns (15.95 yards/return), turnover margin (+1.73/game) and pass efficiency offense (174.61 rating).
Johnny Gray leads the league in receptions (4.73/game), receiving yards (66.91/game) and punt returns (17.71 yards/return).
Brannon Carter leads the conference in interceptions (0.45/game).
Corey Lewis is the league leader in all-purpose yards (156.36/game).
LEWIS AMONG TOP 10 RUSHERS IN UNI HISTORY
Lewis has rushed for 2,319 yards in 35 career games. Lewis has also scored 23 rushing touchdowns in his UNI career.
Jeff Stovall is the Panthers' all-time leading rusher with 3,835 yards on 873 carries. Stovall starred for the Panthers from 1993-1996.
LEWIS CLOSING IN ON SINGLE-SEASON RUSHING MARK
Lewis, who became the 18th 1,000-yard rusher in school history, has rushed for 1,143 yards this season to rank as the sixth-highest single-season total in UNI's history.
Adam Benge set the Panthers' single-season rushing record with 1,383 yards in 2001.
LEWIS ALSO FINDS THE ZONE
The St. Paul, Neb., native has scored 23 career touchdowns. His 23 scores ranks sixth on the Panthers' all-time rushing touchdown list. Errol Peebles ranks fifth on the list with 25 rushing touchdowns.
Jeff Stovall holds the Panthers' rushing touchdown mark with 46 career scores on the ground.
AIR, GROUND SERVICE
Lewis has rushed for 1,143 yards (103.9/game) and 11 touchdowns. Lewis has caught 45 passes for 554 yards.
The St. Paul, Neb., native leads the Panthers with 1,720 all-purpose yards (156.4/game).
Lewis put together one of the finest all-purpose games in UNI history against South Dakota State (9/15) as he rushed for more than 100 yards and tallied 100-plus receiving yards.
As a result of his play against the Jackrabbits, Lewis was rewarded withthe Gateway Football Conference's Offensive Player of the Week honors.
He caught 10 passes for 164 yards, rushed 18 times for 125 yards and scored three touchdowns in leading UNI to a 31-17 victory at South Dakota State. Lewis tallied career-bests in receptions, receiving yards, all-purpose yards (289) and touchdowns.
Lewis trumped the 100-yard mark in UNI's 24-13 win over Iowa State with 130 yards on only 19 carries.
He eclipsed the 100-yard rushing plateau in UNI's 31-17 win over SDSU. Lewis rushed for 125 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns in the victory over the Jackrabbits.
Lewis went over the 100-yard mark against Drake with 108 yards on 20 carries.
Lewis ran his season-streak of 100-plus rushing efforts to four in a row after tallying 123 yards on 19 carries in a 23-13 win at Illinois State (9/29).
Lewis got back into the 100-yard swing with 166 yards in helping UNI to a 42-3 win at Western Illinois (10/20).
Lewis ran for a season-high 167 yards on 23 carries and scored on a 14-yard touchdown run in a 38-17 win at Missouri State (11/3).
Lewis rushed for 100-plus on five occasions in 2006 and once in 2005.
The St. Paul, Neb., native averaged 6.7 yards per carry and 99.3 yards per game in 2006.
PANTHERS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS (since 1985)
The Panthers are 57-33 against top 25 opponents since joining the Gateway Football Conference in 1985.
SANDERS SET TO CHALLENGE UNI PASSING STANDARDS
Sanders needs 682 more passing yards to catch all-time leader Ryan Helming (1997-2000). Sanders also trails Helming's touchdown total by nine.
Sanders ranks second on the Panthers' all-time completions list (661). He is in third place on the all-time passing yards list with 8,407 and is in fourth place on all-time passing attempts list with 952.
Sanders ranks first among active FCS players on the all-time completion percentage chart (69.43 percent).
He ranks No. 3 on the active leaders amongst FCS quarterbacks in passing efficiency (162.56 rating), passing touchdowns (68), total offense-touchdowns responsible for (81) and passing yards (8,407).
EVANS TAKES IT TO THE HOUSE
Evans was lost for the season last year in week six when he suffered a broken upper left arm against Indiana State (10/14/06).
Evans rehab efforts continued through the spring and he even took part in spring drills for the Panthers.
Evans return to the field came on Aug. 30 in UNI's 41-14 win over Minnesota State. Evans tallied four tackles (two solos) in the victory.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native recorded his first collegiate touchdown against Drake. Evans pulled off a defensive trifecta in the Panthers' 45-7 win over Drake.
At the 1:34 mark of the first quarter, Evans wrapped up Drake wide receiver Travis Hardgraves, stripped the football and then returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to put the Panthers on top, 14-0. Evans finished the game with four total tackles, including three solo stops.
Evans made his comeback complete against Indiana State (11/10) as he intercepted a pass against the Sycamores to set up a Panther touchdown.
Evans ranks fourth on the team with 53 tackles through 11 games.
Harris began the season as a backup at the middle linebacker slot but was inserted into the starting lineup against Iowa State and has now slowed down since.
Harris' balanced defensive effort comes in the form of 73 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and an interception.
KICKING WITH CONFIDENCE
Hallgren, 37-of-37 on extra points and 14-of-20 on field goals for the season, has made 12 of his last 14 field goal attempts.
Included in that stretch of 12 made field goals was a career-best 53-yarder in UNI's 30-24 win over Southern Illinois (10/13).
The Coal Valley, Ill., native leads the Panthers in scoring with 79 points.
CARTER MAKES CLAIM FOR GATEWAY DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR HONORS
Carter intercepted his fifth pass of the season, recovered a fumble and registered eight total tackles in helping UNI to a 38-17 win at Missouri State. Carter and the Panthers limited the Bears to zero yards in the third quarter and only 11 total yards in the entire second half.
Carter leads the league in interceptions this season with five. Carter has tallied 72 total tackles (28 solos), five pass breakups and 3.0 tackles-for-loss.
MATCHING HIS COACH
Williams rushed for a game-high 115 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries. Law and Brookins each rushed 17 times with Law totaling 105 yards and a touchdown, while Brookings netted 101 yards.
It is the first time in school history that UNI had three players reach the 100-plus rushing mark in the same game.
Gray returned two punts for 97 yards, caught two passes for 42 yards and a touchdown, while accumulating 139 all-purpose yards against the Sycamores.
The 67-yard return for a score was the second punt return touchdown of Gray's career. He returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown against Western Kentucky in 2005.
MONTARI MAKES PLAYS
Leonard came into the game having caught one pass for three yards this season.
UNI SETS GATEWAY SCORING MARK
LARGEST MARGIN FOR UNI IN A LEAGUE GAME
THE ROAD STANDARD
Only 12 teams in league history have won five road games in a season.
No previous Gateway team has claimed six road victories in a season, although both Western Kentucky (2002) and Youngstown State (1997) won six away from home in a season as each won the national title in those respective seasons.
Team Road Home Total
THE SCHUYLAR'S THE LIMIT
Oordt also made one of the season's most important catches and helped propel the Panthers to a 14-13 win over No. 20-ranked Youngstown State (10/27).
Facing a 3rd-and-10 with just over five minutes remaining, Oordt got past the YSU defense and made a 34-yard catch to set up the Panthers' go-ahead touchdown.
Oordt had an impressive collegiate debut against the Minnesota State Mavericks. Oordt caught five passes for 63 yards, including a long of 22 yards.
Oordt is comfortable playing games in the UNI-Dome as he played prep football for Cedar Falls High School, which also plays its home games in the UNI-Dome.
In 2007, Oordt has caught 10 passes for 170 yards and touchdown.
UNI opened the season at home Aug. 30 against Minnesota State with a 41-14 win.
The Panthers then won road games at Iowa State (24-13), at South Dakota State (31-17), at Drake (45-7) and at Illinois State (23-13).
To prepare for the September road test, UNI head coach Mark Farley had the players dress in their white jerseys for the team's annual media day on Aug. 3.
BIG CROWDS FOLLOW THE PANTHERS
But the Panthers have also been drawing well on the road. In all four road games during the month of September there was at least 10,216 fans in attendance for each game.
The biggest draw came during the Iowa State contest, which set Jack Trice Stadium record with 56,795.
UNI - 2007 MYTHICAL STATE CHAMPIONS
Iowa State tallied a 15-13 win over Iowa only one week after the Panthers had beaten the same Cyclone team on the same field in Ames, Iowa.
GATEWAY SLAYS THE GIANTS
The Gateway has a total of 27 victories against FBS schools since 1985, including at least one every year from 1996 through 2003, and three in the past two seasons. Southern Illinois (at Indiana in 2006, and at Northern Illinois in 2007) became the first Gateway school since Western Illinois (2002 and 2003) to win against an FBS opponent in back-to-back years.
9TH WIN OVER FCS OPPONENT
The Panthers boosted their overall record against non-conference opponents since 1985 to 100-45 and extended their streak of consecutive seasons with at least two non-conference wins to 23.
UNI is the only original member of the Gateway Conference to claim at least two non-conference wins in each season since the league began play in 1985.
A BIG DRAW
The throng of 56,795 fans eclipsed Iowa State's previous attendance mark of 55,518 -- set in the Sept. 30, 2006, UNI-ISU clash.
It is the fourth-largest crowd ever to see a UNI football game, with the Panthers' all-time record coming at Iowa on Sept. 17, 2005 - a crowd 70,585 at Kinnick Stadium.
SANDERS NARROWLY MISSES NATIONAL RECORD
Austin Moherman (Missouri State) set the record with 20-straight completions against Indiana State in 2000.
8,000 PASSING YARDS
The only other three UNI quarterbacks to pass for more than 8,000 yards includes Ryan Helming (9,089), Mike Smith (9,067), Sanders (8,407) and Jay Johnson (8,341).
RINEHART EARNS ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT HONOR
For being selected to the first-team, Rinehart's name will now appear on the ballot for consideration for the honor of Academic All-American.
It is the first time Rinehart (Boone, Iowa/Boone HS) has been honored as an academic all-district selection. He was a second-team academic all-Gateway honoree in 2006. Rinehart has been on the Dean's List each of the past three semesters and five times overall.
Rinehart, who has a 3.27 GPA in physical education - sports psychology, has started all nine games for the Panthers this season. Rinehart was named a preseason All-American by Sports Network, Lindy's College Football Preview, Street & Smith's College Football Preview and College Sporting News. He was ranked as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the nation by The Sports Network in its preseason breakdown. Rinehart was named to the 2007 preseason all-Gateway team. He was a second-team All-America pick in 2006 by The Sports Network.
As a member of the Panthers' offensive line, he was a part of the unit that was named the Gateway Football Conference's Offensive Player of the Week vs. Western Illinois (10/20).
District VII includes schools in the states of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Selections are open to student-athletes who have reached sophomore academic standing and carry at least a 3.20 G.P.A. The University division includes all Division I schools.
The academic all-district team honors student-athletes who excel both on the playing field and in the classroom. The awards are sponsored by and voted on by the members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
FARLEY NAMED FINALIST FOR EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD
The Robinson Award, named for the legendary former Grambling coach, has been given annually by The Sports Network to the FCS national coach of the year since 1987.
Farley has guided Northern Iowa to its first No. 1 ranking since 1992. The current 12-game winning streak for UNI, the champion of the Gateway Conference, is the longest in the nation.
A one-time walk-on from the small Iowa town of Waukon who worked his way to an All-American at Northern Iowa as an inside linebacker, Farley has spent 23 of his 27-year coaching career with the Panthers, including the past seven as the head coach. Just two years removed from taking UNI to the national title game, Farley has coached the Panthers to a perfect record in 2007.
Farley is 62-24 as a head coach and has taken UNI to the playoffs four times in seven seasons. The Panthers have shared or won the Gateway title four times during his tenure as head coach.
This year's winner will be announced on Thursday night, December 13 at the Sports Network's annual awards banquet to be held at the Marriott Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
SANDERS AMONG CANDIDATES FOR WALTER PAYTON AWARD
Over 100 voters, representing sports writers, broadcasters, sports information directors and other college football experts will decide on the Payton, Buchanan and Eddie Robinson awards.
Elon wide receiver Terrell Hudgins and Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph have been added to the Walter Payton Award watch list, as the Sports Network announced its final revisions on Monday.
Hudgins and Randolph will join 14 other players on the ballot for the 21st annual Payton Award. Ballots will be sent to voters this Sunday, and voting will conclude before the start of the FCS playoffs on Nov. 23.
Eight players were added to the list last month: Cal Poly wide receiver Ramses Barden, Georgia Southern quarterback Jayson Foster, Richmond running back Tim Hightower, Southern Illinois quarterback Nick Hill, Hofstra running back Kareem Huggins, Citadel quarterback Duran Lawson, North Dakota State running back Tyler Roehl and Colgate running back Jordan Scott.
Those players joined eight other candidates on the revised list. The other Payton candidates include quarterback Liam Coen of Massachusetts, running back Omar Cuff of Delaware, running back Herb Donaldson of Western Illinois, quarterback Josh Johnson of San Diego, running back Mike McLeod of Yale, running back Kevin Richardson of Appalachian State, quarterback Eric Sanders of Northern Iowa and quarterback Ricky Santos of New Hampshire.
The winner of the 21st Walter Payton Award will be announced at the annual Sports Network awards banquet on Dec. 13 in Chattanooga, TN, at the Marriott Hotel. The Buck Buchanan Award, the Eddie Robinson Award and the Sports Network Cup will also be awarded.
The Buchanan Award goes to the top defensive player annually in FCS, while the Robinson Award is given to the top coach in FCS. The Sports Network Cup is awarded to the No. 1 Mid-Major team in FCS.
This year's senior class includes: WR Terrell Allen (Wellford, S.C.), CB Nick Alvarez (Pompano Beach, Fla.), OL Barret Anderson (Rochester, Minn.), LB Brannon Carter (St. Charles, Mo.), LB Araf Evans (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), OL Adam Falk (Lodi, Wis.), FB Josh Firstley (New Orleans, La.), OL Eric Hoffman (St. Cloud, Minn.), OL Brandon Keith (McAlester, Okla.), DL Jordan Lacy (Jefferson City, Mo.), WR Whitney Lewis (Oxnard, Calif.), DL Jeff McGaster (Seaside, Calif.), OL Chad Rinehart (Boone, Iowa), QB Eric Sanders (Oelwein, Iowa), DB Clifford Waters (Kirkwood, Mo.) and RB Darian Williams (East Moline, Ill.).
HOME SWEET DOME
Prior to a September 24, 1994, loss to McNeese State, UNI had won 29 straight regular-season games in the Dome dating back to the 1989 season when it lost 22-14 to Mankato State in the first game of the year.
The Panthers are 59-12 in home Gateway games, leading the league in home conference victories. UNI defeated Southern Illinois, Youngstown State and Indiana State at home this season.
LAST TIME AROUND ... UNI 24, NEW HAMPSHIRE 21 (12/3/05) DURHAM, N.H. - The University of Northern Iowa hung on for a thrilling, 24-21, victory over No. 1-ranked New Hampshire on Saturday in the NCAA I-AA quarterfinals.
"This was probably the biggest win in the history of UNI football, because it came in the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs and we had to do it on the road," UNI head coach Mark Farley said. "What makes it even more special was that (New Hampshire) was an elite football team. I give credit to both football teams. It was a matter of inches whether it would be UNH or UNI."
The Panthers jumped out to a commanding 21-0 lead only 23 minutes into the game, but needed a fourth quarter field goal from junior Brian Wingert to earn the win.
Senior running back David Horne rushed for career-high 144 yards on 28 carries. Horne also scored the first two touchdowns of the game, including a 40-yard run on the opening series of the contest. Horne then caught a 32-yard middle screen from sophomore quarterback Eric Sanders to give the Panthers a 14-0 lead with 9:36 to go in the second quarter.
Senior running back Terrance Freeney finished off the first half scoring for the Panthers on a 1-yard run with 7:03 left in the second quarter. The Panther touchdown was set up by a blocked punt by sophomore free safety Chris Parons.
New Hampshire's powerful offense seemed to come alive down 21-0. Led by Walter Payton Award finalist sophomore quarterback Ricky Santos, the Wildcats cut into the Panthers' lead with two touchdown passes in the final two minutes of the half.
Santos hooked up with junior wide receiver David Ball for an 8-yard score with 1:49 left in the second quarter. The tandem then hooked up again for a 29-yard score.with only 40 seconds left in the half.
New Hampshire was able to knot the game at 21-21 with 1:39 to go on Santos' third touchdown pass of the game to Ball. The scoring play was a 29-yard strike and it came on a nine-play, 83-yard drive.
But the Panthers responded with a dominating defensive effort in the fourth quarter and an important 22-yard field goal from Wingert.
After forcing two fumbles in the third quarter, the Panthers tossed a shutout in the fourth quarter to protect the three-point advantage.
UNH drove to the UNI 27-yard line and faced a 4th-and-2 with just over eight minutes to go. UNH went for it, but the pass was knocked down by senior John Hermann and the Panthers took possession of the football.
UNH then committed its biggest turnover of the game after a UNI punt. On another 4th-and-2 with three minutes to go, UNH's Keith LeVan took a handoff from Santos and appeared to have the first down in sight, but he fumbled the ball and the Panthers' Hermann fell on the ball to clinch the victory. UNI recovered three fumbles on the day and committed only one turnover.
"Turnovers and fourth down conversions were the difference," UNH head coach Sean McDonnell said. "UNI created a lot of turnovers and they did a great job trying to strip the ball. You can't lose the turnover battle like we did today."
UNH dominated the total offense numbers in the game with 631 yards of offense to only 351 for the Panthers. UNH also tallied 30 first downs to only 16 for UNI.
Sanders passed for 185 yards on 15-of-25 passing. Sanders had one touchdown and one interception on the day. Sanders was sacked twice by the UNH defense.
"We find a way to fight through the adversity and we win football games," Sanders said. "It starts in two-a-days but this is what you work for all year long."
Horne led the rushing attack with his career-best 144 yards and a touchdown. Senior Justin Surrency led the Panthers' wideouts with four catches for 45 yards.
Santos passed for 345 yards on 27-of-42 passing. Santos had three touchdowns and did not throw and interception. Santos also rushed for 106 yards on 21 carries.
"We said all year that we were the only team that could stop us," Santos said. "We shot ourselves in the foot all day long."
UNH's John McCoy rushed for a game-high 157 yards on 26 carries. Ball also caught a game-high 10 balls for 188 yards and three touchdowns.
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